Last week, the Connecticut Supreme Court overruled the rape conviction of 28-year-old Richard Fourtin, who was sentenced to 6 years of prison in 2008 after assaulting a woman with severe cerebral palsy. In a 4-3 decision, the court decided that the victim did not do enough to refuse the sexual advance of Fourtin, and therefore applied consent. Along with this decision came the declaration that this case may not be appealed or tried again. He now walks free while his victim, who chose to only go by "L.K." at trial to protect her anonymity, continues to suffer.
L.K. is a 29-year-old woman who suffers from an extreme case of cerebral palsy. Doctors say that she is only able to communicate at a 3-year-old level. She has very little motor control of any parts of her body, and cannot speak. She testified at trial by sliding her finger over the words "yes" or "no" on a paper, and if needed, spelling out words by pointing to each individual letter. It took her four full days to testify by this process.
The court ultimately decided that the victim could not possibly be "so uncommunicative that she was physically incapable" of resisting her attacker because of a testimony from a caretaker that stated she would sometimes kick and groan at home to get food. The court decided that since L.K. was capable of noticeable physical struggle, she should have made her lack of consent more clear by fighting against Fourtin. They therefore let Fourtin walk with the promise of no future retrial.
According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, the absence of a verbal no and/or physical resistance does not indicate consent. Their website states "many victims make the good judgment that physical resistance would cause the attacker to become more violent." It is not uncommon for female rape victims to put up little struggle to protect their safety.
As someone with cerebral palsy (although I am blessed to have a very mild case), I can attest to the fact that some people are limited by their bodies, and unable to function normally. My ability to walk and speak clearly is incredibly rare. Most cerebral palsy patients are either wheelchair bound or must undergo years of rigorous physical therapy to be able to walk even minimally. Speech therapy is often a necessity as well, and even many milder patients have difficulty being understood. I myself, with a case pretty much as mild as it gets, underwent about 12 years of physical therapy as a child, wearing countless leg, ankle, arm, and wrist braces for correction and support. Cerebral palsy, for anyone unfamiliar with it, is an extremely debilitating disability.
For this reason, I am appalled that the Connecticut Supreme Court would turn their backs on this helpless victim to let her attacker walk free. Rape is rape. And an attacker picking out an innocent woman who is so physically weak and unable to communicate calls for a harsher sentence, not an excusal of this hideous crime. Absence of no does not mean yes. Especially if the victim in question has great difficulty saying "no." Shame on the Connecticut Supreme Court. They are supposed to protect their citizens. This man should not get away with his disgusting crime because he had the good sense to attack a woman completely incapable of fighting back physically, verbally, and now apparently, legally. I am so disgusted I can't even stand it.
We need to protect rape victims. We need to protect our disabled. Will you sign my petition urging the Connecticut Government to look this case over and allow for a retrial? Will you tell them that rape is completely inexcusable, no matter how little resistance the attacker faces? Will you tell them that unless someone hears a "yes," their sexual advances are unwelcome and illegal? Will you tell them that you are disgusted and ashamed for their complete disregard for their own laws and their own citizens?
Thank you. Please sign and share my petition until Connecticut gets the message that they crossed a big line.
Danielle Minty started this petition with a single signature, and now has 48 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.